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What is Family Life Like in Britain?

The family in Britain is changing. The once typical British family headed by two parents has undergone substantial changes during the twentieth century. In particular there has been a rise in the number of single-person households, which increased from 18 to 29 per cent of all households. By the year 2020, it is estimated that there will be more single people than married people. Fifty years ago this would have been socially unacceptable in Britain.

In the past, people got married and stayed married. Divorce was very difficult, expensive and took a long time. Today, people’s views on marriage are changing. Many couples, mostly in their twenties or thirties, live together without getting married. Only about 60% of these couples will eventually get married.

In the past, people married before they had children, but now about 40% of children in Britain are born to unmarried parents. People are generally getting married at a later age now and many women do not want to have children immediately. They prefer to concentrate on their jobs and put off having a baby until late thirties.

The number of single-parent families is increasing. This is mainly due to more marriages ending in divorce, but some women are also choosing to have children without being married.

In general the latest independent research commissioned with leading psychologist Dr Chris Steele concludes that there is no such thing as a singular typical British family unit, but that “typical” families fall into one of five categories namely: The Techies, The Easys, The Fit and Fun Lovers, The Selfers and The Good Intenders.

The “Techies”. Leading the way with their technology-focused lives the children have mobiles phones, and consider text messaging a way of life. Their parents have “satellite navigation” in-car systems, with internet access and digital cameras being family necessities.

The “Easys”. The Easys spend most of their leisure time in front of the television. They work hard and as a result prefer takeaways for convenience and like to combine it with having a drink - 75% of this category regularly drink more than 30 units a week.

The “Fit and Fun Lovers”. The Fit and Fun Lovers are much more health conscious, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. They have calculated that by hiding the remote control, they will walk an extra 3 miles each year. They avoid lifts, takeaways and alcohol and never enjoy a lie in.

The “Selfers”. The Selfers are wrapped up in their own lives. Appearance is everything, whether it’s designer labels, expensive cars or topped up tans. Fresh food is what they want to eat, not because it tastes better but because it makes them look better and of course it’s reassuringly expensive. Their technology choices are financially based, buying expensive, good looking gadgets that reflect well on the family, especially when they are on one of their two annual holidays.

The “Good Intenders”. The Good Intenders have more children than any other group. They have opted for a non-urban life, with organic food featuring heavily. They are under constant pressure from their children to adopt a more trendy, city life. They know that one day they will loose their children to the city, but also hope that they will make the choice to return one day.

On average 2.4 people live as a family in one home Britain. This is smaller than in most other European countries.

Exercise 7.Match each definition with the correct word. Translate the words into Russian and learn them by heart.

1. a house-hold a) not married;
2. a marriage b) all persons (family, lodgers, etc) living in a house;
3. a divorce c) two persons or things, seen together or associated; man and his wife;
4. single d) spare time, time free from work;
5. a couple e) experience;
6. research f) a legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife;
7. leisure g) take a child into one’s family; take an idea or custom);
8. appearance h) investigation undertaken to discover new facts, get additional information;
9. to undergo i) legal ending of a marriage so that husband and wife are free to marry again;
10. to adopt j) that which shows or can be seen; what a thing or person is.

Exercise 8. Choose the right answer.

1. What was a typical British family several years ago?

a) parents, grandparents and children; b) people, living in one house;

c) two parents and two children; d) grown-ups and pets.

2. Why did less people divorce in the past?

a) Divorce was very difficult, expensive and took a long time;

b) Married couple loved each other very much;

c) Parents in the past cared for their children more than nowadays;

d) People were afraid of religious taboos.

3. Why do women prefer not to have children immediately?

a) They don’t love children; b) They are afraid of children;

c) They concentrate on their education; d) They concentrate on their jobs.

4. How many categories do British families fall into?

a) four; b) five; c) six; d) seven.

5. What do the “Techies” NOT use?

a) “satellite navigation” in-car systems; b) text messaging;

c) internet; d) bicycles.

6. Where do the “Easys” spend their free time?

a) in front of the television; b) speaking on the phone;

c) walking in the park; d) travelling.

7. What do the “Fit and Fun Lovers” avoid?

a) cars and bicycles; b) lifts, takeaways and alcohol;

c) technical gadgets; d) eating out.

8. What is the most important thing for the “Selfers”?

a) nationality; b) race; c) technology; d) appearance.

9. Where do the “Good Intenders” live?

a) in the country; b) in big cities; c) on an island; d) in Britain.

10. Is the number of people living as a family in Britain larger or smaller than in other countries?

a) It’s larger; b) It’s smaller; c) It’s the same; d) I don’t know.


Exercise 9.Fill in the table. Add two more categories for comparison.

Foundation Russian Federation United Kingdom
A typical family    
Number of single-parent families    

Exercise 10. Fill in the gaps using the words given below, and translate the sentences into Russian.

underpaid children family per cent

workaholic pictures takeaway internet

population shops bathroom safe

1. Anyone who thinks that the typical British … has 2.4 children, two parents and a dog called Rover, would be wrong. 2. The findings indicate that the typical British family now in fact consists of 1.6 …, has a family income of £24,793 per annum and an annual spend of £1,875 on family holidays. 3. Nearly half of the … spend over 10 weeks watching TV. 4. One per cent of the population is defined as … (working more than 61 hours a week). 5. Three per cent of the population spends over an hour in the … each day. 6. Twenty seven per cent people have never eaten a … . 7. One … of the population eats a takeaway every day. 8. Ninety four per cent of people drink within the recommended … limit. 9. The typical family spends 11hours 41minutes on the … each month 10. The typical family takes over 120 digital … a year. 11. Only 5% of the population feel … and overworked. 12. Four per cent the population shops twice a day 15% of the population … at least once a day.


Exercise 11.Replace the underlined words with the synonym.

1. The once typical British family was headed by two parents.

a) was run; b) was controlled; c) was directed; d) was organised.

2. It is estimated that there will be more single people than married people.

a) written; b) seen; c) calculated; d) obtained.

3. Divorce was very difficult, expensive and took a long time.

a) dear; b) costing a lot; c) convenient; d) easy.

4. Many couples, mostly in their twenties or thirties, live together without getting married.

a) have children; b) exist; c) spend their free time; d) cohabit.

5. The number of single-parent families is increasing.

a) decreasing; b) falling; c) rising; d) doesn’t change.

6. The “Techies” consider text messaging a way of life.

a) suppose; b) know; c) make; d) change.

7. They work hard and as a result prefer takeaways for convenience.

a) safety; b) comfort; c) stress; d) diet.

8. Expensive, good looking gadgets reflect well on the family.

a) dishwashers; b) ovens; c) technical device; d) machines.

9. The “Good Intenders” are under pressure from their children to adopt a more trendy, city life.

a) to accept; b) to prefer; c) to choose; d) to use.

10. The average number of families in Britain is smaller than in other European countries.

a) counties; b) states; c) lands; d) cities.


Exercise 12.Match the verbs on the left with the nouns on the right. Make up sentences with the phrases you have got.

1. to be headed a) a long time;
2. to undergo b) in divorce;
3. to take c) at a later age;
4. to be born d) substantial changes;
5. to get married e) on the family;
6. to put off f) having a job;
7. to end g) by two parents;
8. to concentrate on h) one of the category;
9. to fall into i) having a baby;
10. to reflect well j) to unmarried parents.


Exercise 13.Choose the most suitable word in each sentence.

1. Ann and I were born in one family and we have common parents, so we are siblings/cousins. 2. Liz and Pete loved each other very much, so they decided to get married/to divorce. 3. Nowadays many young couples prefer to concentrate on bringing up children/getting a good job. 4. As the Smiths were not able to have their own children they made up their mind to be born/to adopt a little girl. 5. They are a perfect couple/appearance. 6. The “Easys” prefer to spend most of their single/leisure time in front of the television. 7. My father is a scientist. His research/house-hold is very important for him. 8. Family life/appearance means much for teenagers. 9. Who is the primary breadwinner/offspring in your family? 10. The problem of a responsibility/generation gap is much spoken about.


Date: 2016-01-14; view: 1601

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